Srinagar, Sept 22: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh directed the government to "immediately and forthwith" release the amount of more than Rs.16 lakhs in favour of J&K National Conference (NC), for the land which was allotted to the NC but was never delivered to it by the government.
Justice Sanjeev Kumar observed that in view of the failure of the respondents (government) to deliver the possession of the entire land out of said land, there was breach of contract on the part of the respondents.
The court pointed out that NC had applied for and required land measuring 01 kanal 13 marals and 03 Sirsai for constructing their party office and therefore the land offered to the petitioner was less by 19 marals which was not found suitable for office.
Justice Kumar noted that the allotted land is still in possession of the respondents and they are well within their right to terminate the lease, if any, executed between the petitioner and the respondents.
"They, however, cannot refuse to release the amount which is duly deposited with them by the petitioner (NC)," the court said.
Citing the reply affidavit filed by Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, the court noted the amount deposited by the petitioner is lying in the official account of Finance Secretary and therefore needs to be released therefrom without any further delay.
In this connection, the bench directed the respondents particularly, the Finance Secretary to "immediately and forthwith" release the amount of Rs. 16,66,668 in favour of the NC preferably within a period of six weeks from the date a copy of this order is served upon them.
The court also directed that the petitioner, a political party, is also entitled to interest at the bank rate which is paid for the money deposited in the savings account.
The court was hearing a plea filed by National Conference through its Provisional Secretary, Showkat Ahmad Mir stating that in 2010, the petitioner with a view to construct its party office at Baramulla approached the respondents for allotment of land on lease basis in Ushkara, Baramulla.
It stated that the case of the petitioner for allotment of requisite land was processed and a piece of State land measuring 01 kanal 13 marlas and 03 Sirsai under Khasra No. 2477 situated at Village Ushkara, Baramulla was identified.
It was submitted that the competent authority accorded sanction for allotment of land in question on lease basis for a period of 40 years in the first instance vide government order dated February, 17, 2010 for an amount of Rs. 16,66,668. It was stated that in compliance to government order, the petitioner deposited the said amount and receipt whereof is properly acknowledged by the Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla in his communication.
It was contended that the land identified and allotted to the petitioner could not be delivered to the petitioner on the ground that on physical verification, it was found that 19 marlas out of the land allotted to the petitioner was under occupation of the Indian army.
It further stated that the petitioner approached the respondents for refund of the deposited money in the year 2014.
"The case remained under process at various levels but the amount deposited was not released in favour of the petitioner," it contended.
The petitioner has sought a direction to the respondents to release the aforesaid amount with admissible rate of interest.